Tip Top 25 in helmets, smaller
                                Top 25 Rankings 1901-1935
                                1905 National Championship

1905 College Football Top 25

1905 Chicago-Michigan football game

Pictured above is Michigan at Chicago in 1905, the biggest game the West had seen to that point. 27,000 watched 11-0 Chicago give 12-1 Michigan their first loss in 5 years, and score the only points Michigan gave up in 1905, winning 2-0 on a late safety.

I summarized and compared co-champions 11-0 Chicago and 10-0 Yale in my 1905 national championship article. Either could be ranked #1, but since a 1905 AP poll would have gone with Yale, that's what we'll go with here.

#1 Yale

10-0 Yale defeated #5 Harvard (8-2-1) 6-0 in their finale, and no one else came within a touchdown of them, including #10 Princeton, #15 Army, #18 Brown, #23 Penn State, and #24 Syracuse. They played 3 other teams that would have been ranked near the top 25, 7-2-1 Wesleyan, 6-3 Holy Cross, and 4-3-2 Columbia, so 9 of their 10 opponents were top 35. Quite a deep schedule.

#2 Chicago

11-0 Chicago defeated #3 Michigan (12-1) 2-0 in their finale, the game of the year. They also defeated #6 Wisconsin (8-2) 4-0 on the road, and they swatted away the rest of their opponents more easily, including wins over #21 Indiana (8-1-1), #21 Purdue (6-1-1), 8-2 Iowa, 8-2-1 Northwestern, and 5-4 Illinois.

#3 Michigan

1905 Michigan football team

12-1 Michigan took their first loss since 1900, and gave up their only points of the season on a single game-winning safety, at #2 Chicago in their finale
. They generally rolled up huge scores, and they defeated #6 Wisconsin 12-0, #16 Vanderbilt 18-0, and #17 Nebraska 31-0.

#4 Pennsylvania

12-0-1 Penn may have been rated higher than Michigan in a 1905 AP poll, but since they took an upset tie at home to #11 Lafayette (7-2-1), and Michigan did not take an upset, we'll rate Michigan higher here. Penn also had 4 close wins, one over an unrated opponent, while Michigan did not have a close win.

Penn defeated #5 Harvard, #8 Swarthmore, #12 Carlisle, and #18 Brown. Their weakest performance was a 6-5 home win over 6-4 Cornell (#30-35) in their finale.

#5 Harvard

8-2-1 Harvard took their losses at #4 Penn and to #1 Yale at home in their finale, both by a touchdown. Sandwiched between those games they took an upset tie at home against #9 Dartmouth (7-1-2). Their big wins came over #12 Carlisle, #15 Army, and #18 Brown. They played all 6 of their rated opponents in consecutive games.

#6 Wisconsin

1905 Wisconsin-Michigan football game

Wisconsin football coach Phil King 8-2 Wisconsin took their losses to #2 Chicago and at #3 Michigan (the game shown above), giving each team its toughest game except when the two played each other. Wisconsin's biggest win came 16-12 at #7 Minnesota, a 10-1 juggernaut that put up humongous scores in their other 10 games (average score in those games 53-1). Wisconsin had no trouble with the rest of their schedule, which was very weak.

Wisconsin's coach led the team for only 8 years, but he was probably the best head coach in their history. It was Phil King (pictured at left), a Hall of Fame player who had been a three-time All American quarterback at Princeton 1890-1893. He went 66-11-1 as coach of Wisconsin 1896-1902 and 1905, so this was an encore season for him. He also went 7-3 at Georgetown in 1903, for a total of 73-14-1, and all 9 of his teams were top 25 caliber. He won 3 conference titles at Wisconsin, and his 1901 team came very close to meriting a mythical national championship.

Wisconsin fielded 4 All-Western players in 1905, and 2 of them, halfback Albion Findlay and tackle Wilson Bertke, made Walter Camp's 3rd team All American list.

Wisconsin's big win at 10-1 Minnesota was their first victory in the series since their perfect season in 1901. 25,000 attended. Minnesota scored first thanks to a Wisconsin fumble, but Albion Findlay scored a pair of touchdowns to give Wisconsin a 12-6 halftime lead. They added a field goal to ice the game, and Minnesota scored a touchdown late in the contest to make the final score look better for them.

#7 Minnesota

As noted above, 10-1 Minnesota lost 16-12 to #6 Wisconsin at home, and they won their other 10 games by an average score of 53-1, including 35-0 over #17 Nebraska, 39-0 over 8-2 Iowa, 72-6 over 8-2-1 Northwestern, and 42-0 over 6-3 Iowa State.

#8 Swarthmore

1905 Swarthmore football team

7-1 Swarthmore took their loss at #4 Penn, and they defeated #11 Lafayette (7-2-1) and #13 Navy (10-1-1), as well as a pair of good unrated teams, 6-4 Cornell and 7-2-1 Wesleyan.

Swarthmore's coach was George Brooke, a Hall of Fame player at Swarthmore and Penn 1889-1895. He had been a 2-time All American fullback and won a pair of MNCs at Penn 1894-1895. As a coach, he went 4-1 at Stanford in 1897, then came home to Swarthmore 1900-1912 and went 72-33-6, fielding top 25 caliber teams for 5 straight seasons 1903-1907. Crosstown power Penn hired him away after that, but he went a poor 13-12-4 there 1913-1915. Overall he was 89-46-10. Brooke won the national amateur squash championship in 1904.

Swarthmore's star player in 1905 was Hall of Fame guard Tiny Maxwell (in center of above picture). He played for Chicago 1902-1903, where the 240 pound lineman, quite large for the time, was known as Fatty Maxwell. He moved on to Swarthmore 1904-1905 and got a better nickname. The Maxwell Award, given annually to college football's best player, is named for him.

Tiny Maxwell is best known to college football historians as the face that launched a thousand reforms, a legend about a photograph taken of him after the team's loss to Penn. Penn's strategy in this game was to work him over with 3 linemen, until Maxwell's nose was broken and both eyes swollen nearly shut. He held up for all 60 minutes, and after the game a picture was allegedly taken of his face, mangled and dripping blood.

When president Theodore Roosevelt saw the picture, as the story goes, he was so horrified, this coming on top of an outcry all year over the high number of deaths and serious injuries due to football, that he almost abolished the sport. Instead, a parade of new rules, including the legalization of the forward pass, were instituted for the next season. However, no one has ever been able to locate this photograph, and the story about it did not surface, as far as can be determined, until decades after the fact.

Swarthmore was not a one-man team in 1905, though. Quarterback Wilmer Cromwell made Walter Camp's 3rd team All America list.

#9 Dartmouth

7-1-2 Dartmouth took an ugly loss to unrated 5-4 Colgate, and an ugly tie at nearly-rated 3-1-2 Amherst, but their other tie was a positive, at #5 Harvard. They defeated #10 Princeton and #18 Brown in their finale, both on the road, and they also beat nearly-rated 6-3 Holy Cross.

#10 Princeton

8-2 Princeton took their losses to #1 Yale and #9 Dartmouth, and they defeated #11 Lafayette 22-4.

#11 Lafayette

1905 Lafayette football team

7-2-1 Lafayette took their losses at #8 Swarthmore and at #10 Princeton, but they gave 12-0-1 Penn (#4) their only blemish in a 6-6 tie on the road. They did not play any other good teams, but they shut out the rest of their opponents and won those games easily (average score in their wins 43-0).

Lafayette's coach was Alfred Bull, who had played center and quarterback at Penn 1894-1895, alongside Swarthmore coach George Brooke. Penn won a pair of MNCs in those years, and Bull was All American as a senior. He coached Iowa to a 7-1-1 record in 1896, had a couple of losing seasons at Franklin & Marshall, went 5-1-3 at Georgetown in 1900, and then he went 37-10-3 at Lafayette 1903-1907. Overall he was 62-34-15 at 5 schools

#12 Carlisle

10-4 Carlisle lost to #4 Penn, #5 Harvard, and to 2 athletic clubs, all on the road. They were 10-2 against colleges, and defeated #15 Army, #23 Penn State, and 9-3 Washington & Jefferson.

#13 Navy

10-1-1 Navy lost by 1 point to #8 Swarthmore, and they tied #15 Army in their finale. They gave #14 Virginia Tech (9-1) their only loss, and they beat #23 Penn State.

#14 Virginia Tech

1905 Virginia Tech football team

9-1 Virginia Tech, then known as VPI (Virginia Polytechnic Institute), lost a close game at #13 Navy, but they won all the rest of their games by more than a touchdown, including a 16-6 win at #15 Army.

The head coach was C. P. "Sally" Miles (pictured below at left), who had played tackle here 1900-1902, then went 14-3-2 as coach 1905-1906. He spent 59 years at the school, teaching German and chemistry for most of that time, and he was known as "Mr. VPI." He was the athletic director at VPI 1920-1934, and he also served stints as treasurer and dean at the school. He was president of the Southern Conference, precursor to both the SEC and the ACC, and he is in the Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.

Virginia Tech football coach Sally MilesVirginia Tech halfback Hunter Carpenter

VPI fielded 5 All-Southern players, and that did not include their star, Hall of Fame halfback Hunter Carpenter (pictured above at right). He played at VPI 1899-1903, then at North Carolina in 1904, and then he returned to VPI for a one-year encore this season. He scored 82 points this season, and returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown in the 12-6 loss to #13 Navy.

Although the team's biggest win came at #15 Army, for them, at that time, the one that mattered was an 11-0 win at 5-4 Virginia. That's because it was their first ever win over Virginia, after 8 losses to their rival. Virginia was so mad about it that they refused to play VPI again until 1923.

#15 Army

4-4-1 Army took their losses to #1 Yale, #5 Harvard (by a touchdown), #12 Carlisle (by 1 point), and #15 Virginia Tech. They tied #13 Navy (10-1-1) in their finale. That was their best "win," but they also defeated #24 Syracuse 17-0.

#16 Vanderbilt

7-1 Vanderbilt was the champion of the South again (shared with Virginia Tech). Their loss came 18-0 at #3 Michigan, but they simply destroyed every other opponent (average score in their wins 53-1). On the other hand, none of those teams were good, so we don't know much about Vanderbilt 1905.

#17 Nebraska

9-2 Nebraska, champion of the Missouri Valley region again, lost badly at #3 Michigan and at #7 Minnesota. They gave Rocky Mountain champion Colorado (8-1, #19) their only loss 18-0 at home, and all their wins came by more than a touchdown (including a 102-0 win at Creighton).

#18 Brown

7-4 Brown took their losses to #1 Yale, #4 Penn, #5 Harvard, and #9 Dartmouth. Their one big win came 27-0 over #24 Syracuse.

#19 Colorado

8-1 Colorado was the champion of the Rocky Mountain region again. They lost 18-0 at #17 Nebraska, but they rolled up huge scores in their other games and beat some good teams, including #25 Kansas (10-1), 6-2 Utah, 7-3 Washburn, and 5-4-1 Haskell.

#20 Stanford

8-0 Stanford was the champion of the West Coast, but that region was so cut off from the rest of the country that they cannot really be compared to the rest. None of their opponents appear to have been better than mediocre, and they had 2 close wins, so their performance wasn't impressive.

Due to concerns over the safety of football, Stanford dropped the sport after this season in favor of rugby, and the school wouldn't field a football team again until 1919.

#21 Indiana and Purdue

8-1-1 Indiana and 6-1-1 Purdue tied each other on a neutral field, and each took their one loss to #2 Chicago, so we'll place these state-sharing twins into a tie at #21. Each team even had exactly one All-Western player, and for each team that player was an end. On top of that, each team was headed by a coach that had played for a Western Conference powerhouse 1899-1902. Spooky sameness here. Neither really beat a good team, but the wins for each all came by more than a touchdown, and they did beat some decent winning teams (5-4 Illinois, 5-4 Missouri, 5-4 Notre Dame).


Indiana football coach James Sheldon

Indiana was headed up by James Sheldon (pictured), the school's first professional football coach. He had played end and halfback at Chicago 1899-1902, twice team captain, and then he had been an assistant there to Amos Alonzo Stagg. Indiana hired him away, and he went 35-26-3 here 1905-1913, making him one of the few coaches to leave the school with a winning record. His teams were top 25 in 1905, 1906, and 1910, and after his tenure Indiana would not be rated again until 1945 in the original AP poll top 20, and 1937 in the fixed-and-expanded AP poll top 25.

Indiana was the only team to score on Sheldon's alma mater, #2 Chicago, this season. Their 8 wins were the most Indiana would achieve in a season until they won 9 in 1945.


Purdue football coach Albert Herrnstein

Purdue was coached by Albert Herrnstein (pictured), who had played at Michigan the same years Indiana coach Sheldon played at Chicago, 1899-1902. Herrnstein won an MNC at Michigan in 1902. He coached Haskell in 1903 and 1904, going 7-3 and 8-1, both top 25. Then he came here and again produced a top 25 team. This was his only season at Purdue, however, as Ohio State hired him away, and he went 28-10-1 there 1906-1909.

#23 Penn State

8-3 Penn State took their losses to #1 Yale, #12 Carlisle, and #13 Navy. They struggled to get by 4-4 Dickinson, a weak performance, but they beat a pair of good unrated teams 6-0 in their last 2 games, 8-1 West Virginia and 10-2 Pittsburgh. Pitt lost to 6-4 Cornell, who lost to 4-3-2 Columbia.

#24 Syracuse

8-3 Syracuse took their losses to #1 Yale, #15 Army, and #18 Brown, none of them close. They struggled against 5-4 Colgate, and they beat one good unrated team, 6-3 Holy Cross.

#25 Kansas

10-1 Kansas lost 15-0 at #19 Colorado. Their one close win was 6-0 at 2-6 Arkansas. They defeated 7-2 Oklahoma, 6-2 Kansas State, 7-3 Washburn, and 5-4 Missouri.

Others Receiving Votes

Here are the teams closest to making this top 25.

Iowa 8-2

8-2 Iowa took their losses by huge scores at #2 Chicago and at #7 Minnesota. All their wins came by more than a touchdown, the best opponents being 6-3 Iowa State and 7-2-1 Grinnell. Those wins rendered Iowa the champion of Iowa.

Holy Cross 6-3

6-3 Holy Cross took their losses to #1 Yale, #9 Dartmouth, and #24 Syracuse, all on the road. Their one big win came 9-0 over 3-1-2 Amherst (covered next).

Amherst 3-1-2

3-1-2 Amherst fielded 3 straight top 25 caliber teams 1902-1904, but those are the last times they did it, as they fall just short this season. Their loss came 9-0 at 6-3 Holy Cross (covered above). They pulled off a huge scoreless tie against #9 Dartmouth at home, but they also tied 10-10 at 4-3-2 Columbia.

1905 Top 25

1) Yale 10-0
2) Chicago 11-0
3) Michigan 12-1
4) Pennsylvania 12-0-1
5) Harvard 8-2-1
6) Wisconsin 8-2
7) Minnesota 10-1
8) Swarthmore 7-1
9) Dartmouth 7-1-2
10) Princeton 8-2

11) Lafayette 7-2-1
12) Carlisle 10-4
13) Navy 10-1-1
Virginia Tech 9-1
15) Army 4-4-1
16) Vanderbilt 7-1
17) Nebraska 9-2
18) Brown 7-4
19) Colorado 8-1
20) Stanford 8-0
21) Indiana 8-1-1
       Purdue 6-1-1
23) Penn State 8-3
24) Syracuse 8-3
25) Kansas 10-1

Others Receiving Votes:
Iowa 8-2
Holy Cross 6-3
Amherst 3-1-2

Top 25 Rankings 1901-1935
1905 National Championship